When a book title starts with “The People’s” some readers will be put off because of the association with politicians of low repute. However, this book can justify the prefix. Although the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was very much about the elebration of an extraordinary period of service by one woman to her nation, and at a time of enormous social and political change, it fired the enthusiasm of the people in a way that many commentators had assumed was long extinct.
The captions to the photographs are well written and each section of photographs is introduced with concise text that ably sets the scene for the section following it. The publisher has provided layout and production that fully complements the content. This should be a book that sells strongly around the world and one which will be treasured by those who own it.
NAME: The People’s Jubilee, A Nation Celebrates
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Pat Cunningham
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Diamond Jubilee, HM The Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip
DESCRIPTION: When a book title starts with “The People’s” some readers will be put off because of the association with politicians of low repute. However, this book can justify the prefix. Although the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was very much about the celebration of an extraordinary period of service by one woman to her nation, and at a time of enormous social and political change, it fired the enthusiasm of the people in a way that many commentators had assumed was long extinct.
When the young Princess Elizabeth became Queen, it was in a very different country from the one in which she was brought up. The challenges for Monarchy were enormous. What became remarkable was the continuing and frequent changing influences that defeated many a politician, but which the Queen proved able to deftly move through. Many of the Prime Ministers who should have been advising the Queen found that it was they who needed advice from an experienced and highly respected Head of State.
In the history of British Monarchy, it is interesting that the three greatest Monarchs have been women. Elizabeth I was also a young princess when she came to the throne, at a time when Princes of the Female Gender were not expected to rule, requiring a suitable husband to take that role on their behalf. Elizabeth I proved that she was not only able to rule, but to deal with a most turbulent period when England was beset by enemies and in a period of immense change. She deftly navigated England through this difficult age in a long reign that was of great benefit to her people. When the young Princess Victoria came to the throne, she was initially to have the support of a beloved husband, but his premature death meant that much of her long reign was to be solitary. She celebrated her Diamond Jubilee and saw a period of enormous change as Britain established a global Empire on trade. British forces were deployed on a number of occasions, but it was a period free of European war and considerable national wealth was built up. Then a young Elizabeth II became Queen a third great period of Monarchy also commenced, when European War was avoided, but replaced by a Cold War. Britain was also attempting to find its way in the world after a costly war, when a second national socialist Government had brought the country close to bankruptcy and politicians desired to achieve the managed decline of a once great nation.
The Princess was already married and had been living as a naval wife in Malta, a period she once described as the happiest of her life. Her husband was a typical naval officer of his generation, a career that he enjoyed and was very good at. When Princess Elizabeth became Queen it could have presented enormous pressures on their marriage, but they managed to become an effective team with the Duke of Edinburgh as Head of Household and on official appearances a supportive Prince Consort. The closeness of their relationship was demonstrated during the Jubilee celebrations when the Duke of Edinburgh became ill and missed several engagements that he had looked forward to. The Queen suddenly looked alone.
This book has captured the mood of the Diamond Jubilee. Illustration is unique and includes unseen coverage from the Daily Mirror. Text takes second place to the excellent photographs. Importantly, the author has provided a picture of the Family behind the Queen and the events from her life, rather than just presenting a narrow view of the Diamond Jubilee engagements. This is important, because the Queen saw her Diamond Jubilee as a time to rededicate herself to her country and its people. Although the Duke of Edinburgh suffered an infection that meant he missed some parts of the programme of engagements, both he and the Queen demonstrated their considerable stamina in taking part in a programme that would have defeated many thirty years their junior.
What is particularly delightful in this book is that many of the photographs selected show the humour of the Queen. Where her mother’s round face always looked happy and cheerful, the Queen has a squared face that can look unduly serious and humourless, counter to her true nature. There is also the tender moment when the Queen whipped away a tear as she sat alone during the Jubilee Thanks Giving Service as the Duke of Edinburgh was recovering from the infection that had kept him from the service.
What the author has captured particularly well is the Family Firm nature of the British Constitutional Monarchy. Whilst the Queen shows every sign of continuing to the full extent of her life, the next generations are there, ready to relieve the weight of duty and to provide continuity. This is something that a President can never deliver, whether an executive President or a figurehead. What the people find most reassuring is that the Royal Family not only demonstrates a level of personal commitment and dedication that few are expected to deliver, but it is a family and suffers the joys and sorrows of other families.
Having observed that the text takes second place to the photographs, it is more than adequate to the occasion. The captions to the photographs are well written and each section of photographs is introduced with concise text that ably sets the scene for the section following it. The publisher has provided layout and production that fully complements the content. This should be a book that sells strongly around the world and one which will be treasured by those who own it.